The compounding value of work journaling

For the last 5 years work journaling has been the cheat code to effectiveness in my work day and I think that more people should add it to their collection of tools.

We face an epidemic of 8+ hour days that consists of meetings that require constant hour to hour context switching, having to remember every detail related to what happened in a meeting and planning for whats next.

What is a work journal

The journal entries consists of a daily document that captures the tasks for the day, sections for each  meeting and an extra section for miscellaneous notes.  Similar to a traditional journal entries are tied to that day but are created at the beginning of the day and is updated throughout the day as task are completed, meetings take place or any other daily needs for note capture. Here is a peak into  my process.

Example of a work journal entry
Example of a work journal entry

Daily Process

At the beginning of each day I take a look at my tasks from the day before and carry over anything that didn't get done placing it under tasks. Then I scaffold sections underneath tasks for each meeting I have. I play through my day as I put notes, questions and agenda items under each meeting section.

Once the day begins I work through this document checking off things that are done, adding new tasks, referencing meeting sections and adding more details as needed.  At the end of the day I have full capture of the events of the day and an idea of what is in store for tomorrow.


This is probably the most mundane, of all the tasks I do all day but it frees me to be present in meetings, not having to prepare right before a line of back to back meetings, it makes context switching easier because of the pre-captured context in my meeting notes and it insures that I come to the meeting with an agenda and prepared questions.  

How to start

You notice though out this whole post i never mentioned any particular app or technology. This approach can be used with really any note taking app that allows you to make entries and name them by date.  I use Microsoft One Note because it's just convenient but Apple Notes, Notion and Clover would also be good options. You can even use the original note taking app a physical notebook. The key is to do it everyday and stay disciplined about integrating it into your work day.

Hope work journaling is helpful in how you approach your workday and lightens the cognitive load that is required to be effective everyday at your job. Feel free to let me know if you end up taking on work journaling as a practice. Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter or Mastodon.

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